JFC bullish on China, global markets


MANILA  -Fast food billionaire Tony Tan Caktiong’s Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) is stepping up expansion in key countries, including China and the United States, as it moves to beat earnings targets for the year.

Jollibee chief financial officer (CFO) Richard Shin said on Tuesday they were undeterred by global headwinds, notably concerns over an economic slowdown in China, one of the company’s core markets.

“We have not wavered on our long-term strategy [to grow] in geographic priorities of the Philippines, US and China,” Shin told reporters during a briefing. “The macros come and go but the total addressable market of China is just too big to ignore in terms of the food and dining space,” he added.

Coffee and tea is another important segment, but Jollibee has yet to enter this business in China.

“Coffee and tea is probably growing the fastest in China despite the macro [conditions],” he noted.

Jollibee had 6,617 domestic and global stores as of end-June 2023, with 511 of these located in China. Shin said the US also remains a crucial market especially with the successful turnaround of Smashburger.

Another acquisition that is gearing for a massive worldwide rollout is The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL).

“We are investing quite a bit in CBTL to get it ready to be a mega brand and to take it really global,” Shin said. As of the first semester of 2023, Jollibee had 1,117 CBTL outlets.

Shin, who was appointed Jollibee CFO a little over a year ago, said they were also focused on Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia.

“Demographics show that this could be a market where we could be over 1,000 stores pretty soon,” he said. Jollibee had 673 outlets in Vietnam last June. Shin noted that Jollibee was poised to exceed earlier earnings targets given robust sales in the Philippines and overseas.

Systemwide sales as of the first half were up 23.3 percent versus their target to grow the full-year figure by 15-20 percent. Operating income during the period surged 50.7 percent versus their 20-25 percent target.

“For the rest of the year we not only believe we will deliver our guidance but likely exceed it,” Shin said. INQ

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